Fall is finally underway, and with the chilly weather and gorgeous foliage comes an often less welcome change – increasing energy bills and seasonal sustainability struggles. Colder weather often means higher energy use in your home and weather damage, which can impact how green you’re able to be in your family home. If you’re focused on living a sustainable lifestyle all year round, here are a few steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint this fall.

Take Care Of Your Belongings

While many people forget this part of going green, it can be incredibly important to cutting down waste. One of the easiest ways to reduce how much you have to throw away on a regular basis is to take better care of what you already own. This includes larger items especially, like appliances and furniture items that don’t see as much frequent maintenance. For example, leather furniture should be conditioned about every six months, but most people tend to neglect this care. Take care of what you already own, and you won’t have to take up resources by replacing them sooner.

Reduce Passive Energy Consumption

Your home may be using more electricity than you realize, even if you’re not actively running any electronics. How is this possible? Passive energy consumption happens when you’re not paying attention through your lights, televisions, computers, and other devices. To reduce your energy use, opt for energy-saving versions of these components, like LED lightbulbs instead of incandescent. Unlike incandescent bulbs – which release 90% of their energy as heat – LEDs use energy far more efficiently with little wasted heat. Also, look for power strips that automatically shut off after a certain amount of time to help you maximize your energy efficiency. It also may be worth your while to research solar energy — it’s the most abundant source of energy on earth, after all.

Help Out Your Heating

Heating bills can add up quickly in the fall and winter, especially if your home isn’t designed and repaired for maximum efficiency. If you’re not able to afford a whole new heating system for your home yet, don’t worry – there are still things you can do to improve efficiency. Windows that are drafty and let air escape can increase your energy bills by 10 to 25%, so look for any areas in your home that might be causing cool air to leak in or hot air to leak out. Seal these up as much as you’re able, and consider adding extra insulation if that’s not enough.

Make Materials Matter

Finally, if you’re considering making any major sustainability changes to the design of your home, pay attention to what materials you’re using to update. Not all materials for renovating are as green as the next. A study conducted by Architecture and Design reports that 16% of all the fossil fuel consumed annually is converted into concrete, steel, aluminum and brick building materials. On the opposite end, wood reduces its carbon footprint. Look for materials that are responsibly sourced and more easily renewable to update your green home, and you’ll be able to reduce the overall impact your home has on the environment.

When it comes to going green this fall, there are plenty of steps you can take. Just like eating at home instead of going out to a restaurant every week can help you save money, little changes at home can help you save the environment. For those looking for something small, start with changes like lightbulbs and improving your home’s existing efficiency. However, there’s no need to stop there in your quest to go green. Make as many or as few changes as you see fit in your home to improve your family’s sustainable lifestyle.